2008.01.05 Amabile interview with Simon Keenlyside, Angelika Kirchschlager and Alfred Eschwé

Ursula Magnes (UM) in conversation with Angelika Kirchschlager (AK), Simon Keenlyside (SK) and Alfred Eschwé (AE), recorded at Musikhaus Doblinger in Vienna, 11 December 2007. Broadcast in “Amabile” in Radio Stephansdom, 5 January 2008

Translated by Ursula Turecek


MUSIC: “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz”

Announcer: “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz” by Franz Lehar from “Land des Lächelns”, sung by Simon Keenlyside, from the CD “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz”, recorded by Simon Keenlyside and Angelika Kirchschlager, accompanied by the Tonkünstlerorchester Niederösterreich under Alfred Eschwé. The two artists were Ursula Magnes’s guests at Barocksaal for Musikhaus Doblinger in December 2007. As we just heard the artists perform not only in duets on this CD but also as soloists – and now Angelika Kirchschlager.

AK: Well, it was hard what to say, because I have so much respect for operetta. Erm… but it is such a pleasant sing, that’s what I’d say, well, not that it was easy, much easier to sing.. maybe easier than composer, yes, in “Ariadne auf Naxos” but… erm… probably more difficult than…. Zerlina for example or…. well, it.. it is not necessarily easy to sing but it… it… affects my heart, yes, I simply feel much better afterwards. Maybe you can hear this, this would make me happy.

UM: Maybe it should be written on the disc that…. “you feel better when you have heard it.”

AK: Exactly! Maybe the medical insurance will pay (laughs).

MUSIC: “Ich lade gern mir Gäste ein”

Announcer: We are presenting Angelika Kirchschlager’s and Simon Keenlyside’s recent operetta project and that was “Ich lade gern mir Gäste ein” from “Fledermaus” by Johann Strauß, Angelika Kirchschlager accompanied by the Tonkünstlerorchester Niederösterreich under Alfred Eschwé. The two of them were Ursula Magnes’s guests at Musikhaus Doblinger and now Simon Keenlyside – he was asked about his attitude on operetta.

SK: I never sang operetta before – one time when I was a young man “Lustige Witwe” in English, but… I could … give a marketing answer or the truth. The truth ah… ah… with my opinion is that operetta is so complicated, delicate like lieder, that you really erm… must have a good hand in this style. And with so much text it is like a…. erm… you really must play like an actor. I could not do this. I think I saw a real “Fledermaus” in Vienna, at State Opera and suddenly I realised that it is a step too far for me. I find this music wonderful and all… Richard Tauber and .. .and Heddle Nash and many more are known in Eng… in England, but only the.. the… the highlights, therefore I also made a… also made highlight-disc with Angelika. (laughs). But I like this.


MUSIC: “Da geh ich zu Maxim

Anouncer: “Da geh ich zu Maxim” from the “Lustige Witwe” by Franz Lehar, sung by Simon Keenlyside. The second hour “Amabile” has “Sweet operetta à deux” as its motto today, melodies from Franz Lehar to Robert Stolz, sung by Angelika Kirchschlager and Simon Keenlyside accompanied by the Tonkünstlerorchester Niederösterreich under Alfred Eschwé. And now once again the two of them together.

AK: Well, we sing together for… many years already, we…. we also sing recitals together, we sang “Marriage of Figaro” together and…. we swing on the same wavelength, yes, and this was actually the reason, erm, because we knew that our voices go together well, musically we want… we go in the same direction, concerning… erm… the attitude towards music, yes, we think in a rather similar way about music, I think, yes, rather similarly, there are differences but… und that’s why it just turned out like this.

MUSIC: “Weißt du es noch….”

MUSIC: “…Hab ich nur deine Liebe”

Announcer: “Hab ich nur deine Liebe” from “Boccaccio” by Franz von Suppé, sung by Angelika Kirchschlager and Simon Keenlyside. This was an excerpt from the CD “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz” and the two artists were Ursula Magnes’s guests at the Barocksaal in Musikhaus Doblinger on the occasion of the CD-presentation in December 2007. At this point there was a longer discourse about coughing in concerts, especially in recitals and I don’t want to deprive you of it.


SK: It does… not bother me.

UM: Not at all?

SK: No. No. I am on stage with this…. not in my own language – it is hard enough a-and it… erm… it… it… so in love with the poets from the 19th century that if someone coughs or or… in… for example in Italy, yes, erm… That’s life, it is life, it is not a sacred art for me, it’s just… music.

UM: Yes! What does the conductor say?

AE: I would like to tell a little anecdote, I erm… started some years ago to sometimes do some presentation in my concerts – it is very much worthwhile because it reduces the distance between audience and stage – and in my last… my last New Year’s series with the Tonkünstler I once said to the audience rather cheekily: “Did you know that coughing is much more fun in a concert hall than in front of the TV set?” (AK laughs) And erm… so the people really realised – what I sometimes don’t undertstand, is that you cough as a preventive measure between two movements or between two lieder – so, so in this interval between first and second movement there is a coughing like from the sanatorium and erm… afterwards suddenly there is silence again. And in this concert I then said: “Well, I now chose a piece that begins very softly and ends very softly and now you can try to stand out as a soloist.” And you won’t believe it, it was so quiet in Musikverein, like I never experienced it before in my life. This means that it is a…an awareness for people. I also heard Andras Schiff at Konzerthaus, who stopped playing during a coughing fit and said: “Take your time to finish coughing”, went out, came back again after 5 minutes, started again and during the whole concert there was not one more cough. So it is a process of awareness – of course it can happen and that’s why the cough drops are lying around but I think it is rather a mental problem than a medical problem.


AK: Well, I completely agree with you, yes… There is a remark by an old conductor, sadly I forgot his name, but he was one who conducted already 100 years ago… erm… during a concert once he also…. he interrupted, turned round and said: “Ladies and gentlemen, what the white canvas is for the painter is silence for the artist.” I found this beautiful because the… I do think that… thoughtless … coughs somehow [makes a noise like a bubble bursting] the work of art, above all in soft postludes. And I cannot imagine that this doesn’t bother you, when you say…. and when the atmosphere… when you do so… and so… coughs extremely so that you think you have to [verb missing] him… you must call the ambulance, yes, I think some people even sometimes raise their heads so that really everyone hears them, and I do see sometimes people who double up, tears are flowing, they hold five handkerchiefs in front of their mouths, they don’t bother me at all, yes. But… but these… and this is…. And in this you are right, that’s life – people treat each other very recklessly at times – in this you are right, yes.

MUSIC: “Mia bella Fiorentina”


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